From Big Idea to Marketing Results


How CMOs Can Drive Efficiency in the Marketing Supply Chain

Leigh Segall - featuredBy Leigh Segall, CMO, InnerWorkings

The marketing supply chain is often an incredibly chaotic process with multiple activities taking place simultaneously as teams struggle to bring big marketing concepts to life. As a result of team size and company silos, marketers in Fortune 500 companies are especially challenged in this area.

In sum, marketers often are able to brainstorm creative concepts, but office realities like limited resources, dispersed teams and lack of visibility across the company, make it nearly impossible to effectively take creative ideas to market. In addition to internal challenges, marketers are faced with the new buyer reality as today’s consumers have different expectations about brand engagement – wanting a seamless experience across multiple channels.

This is particularly true in retail and consumer goods environments. According to a 2014 PwC survey of more than 400 CEOs, the movement of the marketplace into an omni-channel world is having many ramifications on their businesses. In the survey, the challenge CEOs said would be most likely to impact them to a great extent (35 percent) was failing to meet customer expectations across channels.

Eco-system Education

Understanding the marketing supply chain and its various steps brings cohesiveness to the process. The marketing supply chain typically includes the following processes:

  • creative,
  • production,
  • distribution,
  • implementation.

Whether marketers are using these processes to execute in-country or global campaigns, navigating the supply chain can be complex and costly if not done efficiently. Much like a factory supply chain, visibility throughout each of these processes is critical.

Look Closer

Evaluating existing marketing processes also is a critical step in delivering solid execution. Take a look at current workflows to see where the strengths and shortfalls are and, most importantly, where are the biggest opportunities for improvement. Completing this evaluation should shine a light on the best ways to optimize marketing budgets, reduce complexity and improve collaboration.

Plan to Partner

Marketers don’t have to go it alone to move ideas from whiteboards to customer connections. Partnering with a marketing execution firm is a way to extend an internal marketing team’s resources, while enabling team members to focus on what they do best. One example of a successful partnership is one we, at InnerWorkings, have with a large specialty chain that operates more than 1000 company-owned and franchise stores around the world. With such an expansive retail network, the company’s marketing execution strategy was complex. The company required a marketing execution partner who could help drive cost-efficiencies, ensure consistency across all branded materials, and streamline delivery and distribution processes.

With a technology-driven solution, strategic sourcing, creative design services and nationwide fulfillment services, the retailer consolidated its marketing production activities across-the-board to drive cost-efficiencies and generated more than $2 million in cost savings in the first year, with an additional $1.5 million in savings captured in the second year. Beyond savings, the stores now have consistency in brand, quality, and impact across the country.

Another example is a consumer products company which experienced three times faster turnaround times on creative and reduced lead time for production and distribution of physical marketing assets by 50 percent. At the same time, the company saw an overall improvement in marketing spend in the form of greater scale and full transparency in the marketing execution process.

Ideas in Action

While creative ideas can be the lifeblood for marketers, taking those ideas from concept to execution is what enables top performing brands to build lasting customer connections.

About the Author: Leigh is responsible for all aspects of the company’s global marketing strategy. Prior to joining InnerWorkings, she was the Vice President of Marketing for Leapfrog Online, one of the nation’s largest digital marketing companies. Leigh also spent seven years with with SAVO, the leading sales enablement technology company in the U.S., where she built and oversaw its consulting practice and then moved on to lead SAVO’s marketing function as Chief Marketing Officer. In addition, Leigh served as Executive Director and chief spokesperson for Youth Venture, a national not-for-profit organization based in Washington, DC. She has also served as a marketing and communications strategist for firms including Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates and Accelerated Market Strategies. She sits on a variety of charitable, corporate, and professional boards including the C-Suite Network, Target Data Corporation, Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation (EDSF) and the Illinois Technology Association. Leigh has a degree in political science from Emory University and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, with an emphasis on marketing and strategy. 


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